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  1. #1
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    VERY discouraging first day!

    I get home from work and decide to take my new(first) bike to the local park to do some easy riding. I have to walk the bike about 3/4 of a mile before I can start riding because I live on a busy four lane street and it's illegal to ride on the sidewalks here.

    I get to a side street where I can start riding and as soon as I start peddling I feel wobbly. The handlebars going back and forth a little as I'm not peddling smooth enough to keep them straight. I start to go down my first hill, which freaks me the hell out. I have serious balance issues and being tilted forward or backward bothers me. I start thinking how I weight about 10 times what the apparatus carrying me down the hill at x mph weighs and how easy it would be for me to crush it, fall off, or both simultaneously.

    At this point I am sweating profusely(no heart thumping though) so I gradually slow the bike down and stick my foot out and stop very ungracefully. At this point I'm at the entrance to the park, where there is another hill to go down and up again. There is also a nice copse of trees. I decide to walk the bike into the copse of trees and take a break. I get out my water bottle, sit down, and start to think over my decisions so far. Along with everything else, I still haven't figured out changing gears very well, and I refuse to pick myself up off the bike.

    After sitting for a while(15 minutes) I notice that the sun will be down in another half hour and decide to give the bike another go before I leave for home. There's a grassy bike trail, I find a path that isn't hilly and ride for about 200 ft. I try shifting gears a few times as I am having a lot of trouble finding a comfortable gear. I hear a strange pop, and now my chain has disconnected from the cog where my pedals are. I am so frustrated at myself at this point I sit down and try to compose myself by laying on a leaning tree and thanking God there's no one else in the park. I walk the bike up two hills and back home.

    I am really discouraged. I'm thinking that I made a mistake, not only in getting a bike that probably isn't tough enough for me, but even if I do will I get to the point where I can ride it comfortably. I don't have any friends who ride and if this is going to happen to me all the time(even if I do buy a bike built for my weight) is it going to be worth the time, money, and humiliation I put into it. My LBS closes too early on weekdays for me to stop by after work which means that I'll have to take it by on Saturday and try to pick it up on lunch whenever it's ready(the guy there told me yesterday he usually has a 2-3 day turnaround).

    Did I make a mistake? I want to stick with it, but right now it is so discouraging. I don't even want to look at the bike.

  2. #2
    Site ***** HaagenDas's Avatar
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    This sounds as though you could be my twin brother. If this happened to me I'd say it was a perfectly normal day. This takes me back to the days when I was doing my pilot licence. The whole object of the days flight was to calm my instructor's nerves.

    This is but a minor setback. I fly now without requiring new landing gear every time I land. I also ride the bike albeit with an attention drawing capability that most people would really hate. For example, on my ride home last night I was picked on by a group of three 8 year olds. they decided to race me. Clever me let them win. I know that before their 21st birthdays I'll be able to kick all their butts.

    Keep it up slim, I for one have faith in you.
    School years were the best days of my life. I used to get caned by middle aged women wearing high heels, stocking and glasses. Now I have to pay for it.

    1967-2005 Speargun Blue Malvern Star Boy's Bike - March 2005 Giant Upland

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  3. #3
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    Thanks, Haag, very much appreciated. I'm 90% sure I don't want to quit I just think that I let my cheap side let me buy into a bike that I will continually break just so I can start riding now.

    Anyone have a link to an online bike maintenance manual? I should be able to put the chain back on without going to the LBS, right? I think I will drive the bike to an abandoned grocery store parking lot and ride around there for a while. I just feel so awkard up on the bike. I refuse to pick myself off the bike, lean at all into a turn, etc. Very frustrating.

  4. #4
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    Yes, it can take a few rides to get the hang of things, but in a week or two, you will be having a great time.

    My 8 year old nephew got a visit from a 19 year old cousin. I thought the three of us could go for a bike ride. But, as soon as we had gone a block, I could see that the teen-ager had forgotten how to ride a bike and "was a danger to himself and others".

    So, we spent an hour or so riding around a large parking lot at a church. Within thirty minutes, things were getting easier. After an hour, he was getting good at handling his bike, and we began riding a course around the church complex that required sharp turns and tested his bike handling skills.

    So, practice in a large parking lot, or on a quarter mile running track until you are confident in your bike handling skills. Don't ride in traffic until you feel ready.

    You can put your chain back on yourself. You will see a half dollar sized plastic wheel holding the chain next to the rear hub. Just pull that wheel forward toward the front of your bike. The chain will go "slack" and you can put it back on the smaller chainwheel next to the pedals.

    Then, lift the rear wheel off the ground, and spin the pedals. The chain will move to whatever gear you selected before the chain came off.

    For most new riders, an easy "gear" is with the chain on the small chainwheel in front, and a middle cog (or the larger of the two middle cogs) in the back. If you don't want to "mess" with shifting gears while getting the "hang of things", you can ride all day in that gear.

    Find a friend to ride with who has been riding on a regular basis. Your friend can help you figure out shifting, and that kind of thing.

  5. #5
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    Man... I remember the first night I got my bike out with my friend. I was crossing my gears, couldn't figure anything out, my saddle was off, I got home and EVERY muscle in my body hurt and i was like "there is no way I can ride like this" I kept at it and now I'm much better. I even ate the pavement a few times. On campus...during school, 20 or 30 ppl get to see me crash and just lay there in my stupidity. As far as dumping your first chain....slow your pedal spin and lighten up the pressure on the pedals...if I try to downshift to that bottom cog too fast I ditch the chain too, it's REALLY easy to put back on. Just keep at it man...you will get better...besides...look at it like this you spent 400 bucks...at 5 bucks an hour you owe yourself 80 hours of bike time....so get busy might as well get your moneys worth.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  6. #6
    Site ***** HaagenDas's Avatar
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    I gotta tell you Amator, my licence renewal did not go easy. Nearly kilt myself a dozen times getting back on the two wheeler. In the end I trundled down my driveway. Had the wobbles up something fierce. Couldn't stop before my vine trellises and hung myself along with my grapes. Did that 20 times before I worked out how to stop the damned thing without the necessity of hitting the end posts.

    It appears that I'm coming to the unpalatable conclusion as you may too. We appear to be normal like the other folks here. Unsavoury, damned unsavoury.
    School years were the best days of my life. I used to get caned by middle aged women wearing high heels, stocking and glasses. Now I have to pay for it.

    1967-2005 Speargun Blue Malvern Star Boy's Bike - March 2005 Giant Upland

    Haagens Home Page

  7. #7
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Don't get discouraged after just one ride. I'm new, too, and couldn't figure gears out until I just went round and round in a big parking lot for a good while. No, you haven't "made a mistake." You've made a great choice...to get exercise and enjoy the out-of-doors. Keep us posted on your progress, because you WILL make progress!

  8. #8
    Riding is Praying Shorty's Avatar
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    For an online manual, the best you can get is a combination of sheldonbrown.com and park tools website (parktool.com). What bike do you have? I doubt its the wrong bike for you, but I'm sure we would all be happy to give our opinions on it anyway. Good luck!

  9. #9
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Keep at it. Don't sweat the gears to much for now. Pick a low gear that you are comfortable in and leave it there(My two main bikes only have one gear apiece ) When you comfortable with the hills and stopping and manuevering, then you can start shifting.
    Everybody has bad days, yours justhappened on the first day. Keep at it, it gets better, a lot better.
    Are you sure about the side walk illegality? The laws vary and I find it hard to believe you cannot leagally ride a sidewalk along a fourlane. If you have gotten this information from a pedestrian disregard it, they will tell you lies in their own self interest.
    Please keep this up for at least a month before you regret you choice. It will get better.
    Are you a registered member? Why not? click here to register. Its free, and only takes 27 seconds!
    Help out the forums, abide by our community guidelines.

    I am in the woods and I have gone crazy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
    Everybody has bad days
    So true. I still have bad days. There will just be some days, where nothing seems to go my way w/ my bike. I remember one day, I was crossing the blvd on my bike, almost to the other side when I slip on some water, and fall right in front of everyone Then there's the days, where I'll be going down a trail, overpedal and fly over my handle bars.

    You'll have those days Just keep at it, and you'll get better and more confident

    Out of curiosity what bike you have?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    Yes, it can take a few rides to get the hang of things, but in a week or two, you will be having a great time.

    My 8 year old nephew got a visit from a 19 year old cousin. I thought the three of us could go for a bike ride. But, as soon as we had gone a block, I could see that the teen-ager had forgotten how to ride a bike and "was a danger to himself and others".

    So, we spent an hour or so riding around a large parking lot at a church. Within thirty minutes, things were getting easier. After an hour, he was getting good at handling his bike, and we began riding a course around the church complex that required sharp turns and tested his bike handling skills.

    So, practice in a large parking lot, or on a quarter mile running track until you are confident in your bike handling skills. Don't ride in traffic until you feel ready.
    Thanks for the pep talk. I think I will try out the parking lot approach on Saturday.

    You can put your chain back on yourself. You will see a half dollar sized plastic wheel holding the chain next to the rear hub. Just pull that wheel forward toward the front of your bike. The chain will go "slack" and you can put it back on the smaller chainwheel next to the pedals.

    Then, lift the rear wheel off the ground, and spin the pedals. The chain will move to whatever gear you selected before the chain came off.
    Awesome! Thanks, I'll fix it a little later tonight.

    For most new riders, an easy "gear" is with the chain on the small chainwheel in front, and a middle cog (or the larger of the two middle cogs) in the back. If you don't want to "mess" with shifting gears while getting the "hang of things", you can ride all day in that gear.
    Duly noted, I think I will try that out on Saturday in the parking lot.

    Find a friend to ride with who has been riding on a regular basis. Your friend can help you figure out shifting, and that kind of thing.
    Easier said than done, give me a week or two until I feel not completely stupid on a bike and I'll try.

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=PWRDbyTRD]Man... I remember the first night I got my bike out with my friend. I was crossing my gears, couldn't figure anything out, my saddle was off, I got home and EVERY muscle in my body hurt and i was like "there is no way I can ride like this" I kept at it and now I'm much better.[quote]
    Out of curiosity, how long/intense was that first ride?

    I even ate the pavement a few times. On campus...during school, 20 or 30 ppl get to see me crash and just lay there in my stupidity. As far as dumping your first chain....slow your pedal spin and lighten up the pressure on the pedals...if I try to downshift to that bottom cog too fast I ditch the chain too, it's REALLY easy to put back on. Just keep at it man...you will get better...besides...look at it like this you spent 400 bucks...at 5 bucks an hour you owe yourself 80 hours of bike time....so get busy might as well get your moneys worth.
    Thanks for the pep talk TRD, and for your help by PM. If I can get this bike thing figured out I may give myself a Kona for Christmas.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaagenDas
    I gotta tell you Amator, my licence renewal did not go easy. Nearly kilt myself a dozen times getting back on the two wheeler. In the end I trundled down my driveway. Had the wobbles up something fierce. Couldn't stop before my vine trellises and hung myself along with my grapes. Did that 20 times before I worked out how to stop the damned thing without the necessity of hitting the end posts.

    It appears that I'm coming to the unpalatable conclusion as you may too. We appear to be normal like the other folks here. Unsavoury, damned unsavoury.
    Twins indeed. Thanks for the reassurance I'm not the only one mucking it up as a beginner.

  14. #14
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    Everyone else, thanks so much, it really means a LOT!. If anyone has any "uncoordinated noob" stories to share, please feel welcome to do so.

  15. #15
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    Out of curiosity what bike you have?
    I just bought a Jamis Explorer 1.0. You can read all about that in my other thread, "Beginner's Advice for an Overweight Newbie" or something to that effect. Feel free to pick apart my choice.

  16. #16
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    my first initial ride was like 8 or 10 miles...something to that affect.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  17. #17
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Most riders get to a point eventually where they consider "clip less" pedals. These are pedals that your shoe snaps onto like a ski binding. And if you twist your foot the right way it pops out, like a ski binding.
    This is for experienced riders only. Most experienced riders think that they can get the hang of it without falling down. Everyone falls at least once. Everyone!!
    I was in traffic stopped at a traffic light with cars all around. I forgot to "unclip"
    I fell over in the middle of one lane and blocked the traffic completely. As I was lying on the ground I noticed a van full of kids in the next lane laughing at me. I still could not get my feet off the pedals. I had to sort of slide myself and the bike out of the road and then figure out what to do from there. If you see someone who looks really experienced ask them about the first time they tried clip less pedals. If they are honest it will be a funny story. Everyone in the world does something like you did, just ask around. You are NOT alone !!

  18. #18
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    I was in the warehouse @ work one time with cryogenic and we were taking out bikes into the office and I rode mine over to the door and somehow didn't clip out my right foot, leaned to the right KABOOM! Yeah...that's right I fell over.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've been cycling since I was 6 years old, but I took a few years off in my late teens/early twenties.

    Then one day I decided to start cycling again. In my head, I was in pretty good shape, so I set off to take a little 5 mile spin. I figured that would be a comfortable way to begin.

    After 0.5 miles, I changed my mind and decided to turn the other direction in order to do a 2 mile ride. After 1 mile, I had to get off the bicycle to take a break. And when I got in after 2 miles I was DEAD!! I nearly cried ... I had no idea I was so out of shape!!!

    Nevertheless, I got back on the bicycle again and kept gradually increasing my distance.

    That was 15 years ago. You can check the links in my signature to see where I'm at now.


    Just an idea, is there a CAN BIKE course in your area? Does your LBS, or does your local cycling association, hold any bicycle handling and maintenance courses? Do a search on the computer for your local cycling association ... they should have all sorts of information. It would probably be worth it for you to sign up for some of these courses. You might meet other new cyclists, and you'll learn a few things to make the whole experience more comfortable.

  20. #20
    Site ***** HaagenDas's Avatar
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    *sniff*
    School years were the best days of my life. I used to get caned by middle aged women wearing high heels, stocking and glasses. Now I have to pay for it.

    1967-2005 Speargun Blue Malvern Star Boy's Bike - March 2005 Giant Upland

    Haagens Home Page

  21. #21
    Senior Member LordOpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amator
    I don't have any friends who ride...
    I started riding for social reasons, now I prefer at least one ride a week alone. If I don't get some time by myself, I get grumpy.

    I don't want to discourage you by saying everyone has crappy days and you'll have a crappy day again. But the good ones so compensate.
    Quote Originally Posted by Amator
    If anyone has any "uncoordinated noob" stories to share, please feel welcome to do so.
    I have never told anyone this, so it better help you!

    3.5 yrs ago when I decided to start riding, I borrowed a beat up bike from a friend. I hadn't ridden in 15 years. I had ridden a few times before joining one friend. I followed her across the street between two bike paths when I missed ramp onto the path and hit the curb at an angle. It was hard negotiating the ramp and I think I panicked. Wasn't going but a couple mph, but took a wierd fall. I think I sprained some muscles in my upper back. She looked back wondering how I wound up laying on the grass. I just joked it off. I felt incredibly stupid.

    We all have our troubles. Just take it easy. Pushing the endurance is fine when you learn the skills, but don't push the learning curve for the skills. Walk when you're unsure and everything will build in time.

  22. #22
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    There was the time I was pedalling on...5mph or so....I came off an unpainted curb...I only had one hand gripped on the bars...my handlebars kicked sideways b/c of my body weight going forward...I end up on the ground with the handlebars underneath me. My friend turn around and ask if I'm ok...I say Yeah as I lay there wondering how incredibly stupid I just was. LoL. My pride was hurt more than anything.
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  23. #23
    Canon fiend MadMan2k's Avatar
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    I don't know about the uncoordinated noob stories, since I've been fairly consistently riding since I learned how about 10 years ago.

    My mom recently started riding again, first she got her old single speed cruiser bike fixed up and rode that on a nice, scenic, 4 mile road we ride on sometimes.
    The gearing was pretty steep, though, and the hills on the ride were a pain to get up, so she ended up getting a new bike (from walmart, yes). It has 7 gears, and her riding has progressed quite a bit. We go on the 4 mile ride sometimes if it's nice weather, and an 8 mile one daily in the summer and fall. Occasionally, a ~15 miler into town and back.
    She even went on a mountain bike trail with me a few months ago, only fell over one time in 10 miles (loose sand).


    Keep at it, its great exercise and great fun. Look at PWRD, he didnt get into the whole bike thing too long ago, and now he's jumping sidewalks and stairs.

  24. #24
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    You need to practice some basic manouvres. Find a flat empty parking lot. Pick a low gear that is fairly easy to spin.
    Make sure the saddle is at a good height. You may want to start with a low saddle, but gradually extend it to its proper height.

    Practice braking to a stop. You should brace your arms, shift your weight back a little and gradually squeeze tthe brakes. The front brake is the main stoopper. When the bike comes to a halt, remove your foot from the pedal and lean to tilt that side. Don't try to put your foot down until you stop.

    Set out some cans at 10 yard intervals and ride a slalom course at slow speed. Slow riding is oftem more difficult than fast riding and helps you to practice balance. Riding in a straight line is quite hard, but if you consider it as a series of S bends it gets easier.

    If the chain is coming off the front ring, then you may need to move the front shifter (left) control a little to ensure that the mech keeping the chain in place. Lift the back of the bike and spin the pedal when you do this. The system may not have been adjusted correctly so ask at the shop.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    Most riders get to a point eventually where they consider "clip less" pedals. These are pedals that your shoe snaps onto like a ski binding. And if you twist your foot the right way it pops out, like a ski binding.
    This is for experienced riders only. Most experienced riders think that they can get the hang of it without falling down. Everyone falls at least once. Everyone!!
    I was in traffic stopped at a traffic light with cars all around. I forgot to "unclip"
    I fell over in the middle of one lane and blocked the traffic completely. As I was lying on the ground I noticed a van full of kids in the next lane laughing at me. I still could not get my feet off the pedals. I had to sort of slide myself and the bike out of the road and then figure out what to do from there. If you see someone who looks really experienced ask them about the first time they tried clip less pedals. If they are honest it will be a funny story. Everyone in the world does something like you did, just ask around. You are NOT alone !!
    Thanks for a fellow humiliating story. I don't think I will ever begin to think about trying clipless pedals for a long time!

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